New Caledonia, a jewel of global biodiversity, brings together terrestrial and marine ecosystems that are unique in the world and exceptionally rich. Following a standard development process initiated in 2018, with the support of FSC France, the new Interim Forest Stewardship Standard of New Caledonia was validated in September 2021 and will be effective as of 2022 in the Loyalty Islands, an archipelago in the south-west Pacific which administratively belongs to New Caledonia.
FSC, a tool to preserve New Caledonian sandalwood
The exploitable sandalwood resource is found almost exclusively in the forests of the Loyalty Islands (Lifou, Maré, Ouvéa and Tiga). This high-quality sandalwood is used to produce its aromatic essence and processed by distillation.
Takone and Serei Non Nengone, in partnership with French perfumers, are promoting the sustainable management of this natural resource in New Caledonia. These two companies have developed an innovative technological, environmental and societal approach to conquer the luxury perfume and organic cosmetics markets, and thus generate high added value from the raw material. Initially certified in organic agriculture, Takone and Serei Non Nengone wanted to turn to FSC certification.
The development of the FSC standard adapted to the local context was entrusted to the company ECOCERT, with the support of FSC France. Local stakeholders also got engaged in the process in May 2018 through a series of meetings.
"The revision of the FSC standard began in 2018, with the objective of adapting the indicators to the specificities of the Loyalty Islands territory in New Caledonia, known in particular for its production of sandalwood. We organized more than a dozen meetings with stakeholders, with the idea of co-writing the indicators on the key themes that concerned them (environment, economic management, social), but also to come and meet them on the three islands that compose the archipelago. We had specific meetings with the Kanak people, because it was essential to identify their territorial issues and to understand their traditional, land and cultural values. Today, the standard is finally ready, and we hope it will be as widely shared as possible and will promote the sustainable management of the islands' forests!” - Chloé Champion, Project Coordinator at Ecocert
A standard limited to the Loyalty Islands
The scope of the FSC standard was limited to the territory of the Loyalty Islands because this territory is the main source of sandalwood, which is currently the focus of FSC standard. This territory is also quite homogeneous, both from a social point of view (all the land belongs to the Kanak tribes, which is not the case in the rest of the archipelago), and from an ecological point of view (same types of soil and relief allow same forest ecosystem’s characteristic). This homogeneity of the context simplifies the adaptation of FSC indicators.
However, it is not excluded that this standard could be extended to the rest of the archipelago, and cover other forest products, if other actors were interested in it in the future.
Issues on the Ground
The demand for sandalwood, particularly from Asian countries, is extremely high, which generates significant pressure on the resource. The exploitation of sandalwood is subject to annual quotas but the risks of illegal exploitation remain a reality.
The exceptional richness of natural habitats in the Loyalty Islands is currently threatened by poaching of protected species, such as endemic bat; land clearing due to agriculture or urban development; invasive species or fires. There are currently gaps in the data, and there is little monitoring of these "High Conservation Value" species or habitats.
Kanak women are becoming increasingly involved in sandalwood and natural resource conservation activities. In recent years, Caledonian women's desire to enter and progress in work world has been particularly strong. They are very much involved in social and political movements and are a force.
The drafting of the requirements, adapted to the local context, has taken these issues into account. The implementation of the reference system should help to preserve each aspect!
The IFSS is based on the FSC Principles and Criteria (V5-2) and the international generic indicators (IGIs). ECOCERT IMO SWISS AG performed the adaptation process and stakeholder consultation. FSC approved the IFSS on 23 August 2021. The IFSS of New Caledonia can be used for the certification of rough wood for almost all types of organizations working in all types of forests in Loyalty Islands Province of New Caledonia; small and low-intensity managed forests (SLIMF) are not included.
Please approach Nicolás Mesía, Policy Manager in the FSC team working on FSC forest stewardship standards by email at email@example.com with any questions about this standard.